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The Village Idiot

History, Who Keeps it for Us?

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(9/2015) With news of the religious genocide and the destruction of ancient "pagan" art going on in the Mohammedan lands, and the mindless PC purging of offensive reminders of history even in my little burg (a slower repeat of the National Socialists of Germany and the communists of the Soviet Union types destroying what they feared: peopleís knowledge of their past), I got to thinking about a documentary I watched back in the dinosaur days of VHS tapes. I found the cover of the cassette intriguing. Black doughboys? In combat? I'd never heard of such. Years later I want to rewatch it, only it seems to have vanished from this reality.

The library dumped the tapes when the DVD format came along. The card catalog (a computer search engine) currently has no record of the WWI Negro solider documentary. Nor can I find it online using Google. (Google is a damned good excuse for supporting libraries, so long as the libraries don't throw anything away!) I did find a coupla books on the subject by searching Amazon.com and ran a search for them through the county's library system, with little hope of finding them. Fortunately, the computerized library system allows me to search all of Marylandís public libraries. Enoch Pratt Free Library coughed up a rare book, as usual.

I probably should purchase a copy of "Negro Combat Troops in the World War: the story of the 371st Infantry" before it too is deemed offensive by the Marxists/Social Justice Warriors/Nazis/Islamists, or whatever the current flavor of anti-human are in vogue here.

A coupla armchair historians claim the documentary I watched was most likely black propaganda, because they had come across no references of blacks being in combat roles during that war. I hadn't either and I had devoured every WWI book I could find when I was in junior high school. As I recall, not one of them mentioned black soldiers. Still, I knew some blacks had served because the Doughboy statue has a plaque listing those "colored" men of Emmitsburg.

Reportedly, old Bonaparte said, "History is an agreed upon set of lies." I get that. People believe the lies that seem to fit their view of the world. I get that as well. And thinking is damned hard work, which is why most of us avoid it and stick with what we believe rather than consider what we don't. I certainly get that. Still, libraries tend to keep books with knowledge less fleeting than the digital lies so easily manipulated.

Thatís why I was sitting in the Thurmont public library waiting on DW to select a novel to occupy her downtime, thumbing through a book on writing (writing as in holding a pen or pencil in hand and making readable marks on paper) when I hear people come in and stop at the checkout counter. One of them says, "Iíve never been in a library before."

Iíve heard that statement on a local radio station, on the street, in bars, in the factory and elsewhere about the county, but seldom in a library. The person going on about the library is one of two teenaged boys wearing sleeveless shirts and short pants. Husky boys, possibly sons of local farmers, or come down off the mountain. Who knows?

The older female with them is renewing a book. The boys stand looking around them with small fascination, but they didnít ask any questions, nor venture away from the counter. When the woman turned to leave, they followed her out the door. I couldnít help but recall my first time in a library. Mom had to hunt for me among the stacks.

My attention wonders back to the book on penmanship. Do I really want to spend time relearning to write? The book trembles in my hands. When did the shaking begin? I sigh and try three times to turn the page. This growing older is going to be a challenge. Would relearning to work a pen be more physical therapy than skill reacquisition?

A checkout computer beeps. I glance over that way and see two preteen boys and an older woman trying to use the self-checkout. Sheís having trouble. She pushes the button for assistance. The boys wander off as a librarian appears. The problem becomes apparent when the patron begins to speak. She reminds me of the Mad Oneís Lithuanian friend, though my ear probably doesnít know Lithuanian from Cockney. The woman is having trouble with the English written instructions. The librarian quickly explains the checkout system and the patron completes the ritual.

I consider. Two local boys uninterested in a library, a foreigner obviously aware of the value of a library and teaching its value to her charges. Some of the talking heads on a local radio program rush into mind with their change for two cents. "Everyone carries a library in their pockets. Itís called a smart phone." One of them quips. Another comment comes to mind, "The smarter the phone, the dumber the user."

DW, still, is lost among the stacks. I use the checkout computer and carry the books to the car. I look over the parking lot. Twenty some cars. I go back inside and count nine people seated at the libraryís internet connected computers. Maybe twice that number are among the stacks, or sitting reading books or magazines. Iíve often wondered why the libraries have so many computers. I think libraries are about books. Or so I did until a librarian pointed out a few things I hadnít considered. Most people looking for a job are told to submit their resumes via the internet. Tax forms are no longer readily available in paper form. We have to print them off the IRS website. People tend to communicate via the internet now rather than by written letters sent through the post office. Not everyone has a cell phone, let alone a smart phone or a home computer. I see the point of the libraryís computers. I worry the library will do away with paper books and provide only E-books. (That day, Iíll abandon the libraries.)

While I think the Emmitsburg branch of the county library is nearly perfect and the stateís Marina system supplies me with books Iíd never access without buying them, Iíd not be too upset if Emmitsburg lost its county branch and had to start over building a new town library. At least the books I need would be available when I needed them, mostly because Iíd donate them to the new library. Not that such a thing as the Emmitsburg branch closing is likely to happen in my lifetime, but I think about it occasionally when some of the politicos and talking heads in the county get to reasoning why we donít need the countyís taxpayers funding libraries.

Sorry dudes. (Why does it always seem to be guys who want to screw with the library?) Everyone does not carry a smart phone. And I know I canít find everything I hunt for via Google.

It still worries me such limited thinking people are movers and shakers within the county.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.